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First West Credit Union

2011 SAWIB WinnerCompany: First West Credit Union, Surrey, BC Canada
Company Description: First West Credit Union is British Columbia’s third-largest credit union with $6.2 billion in assets under administration, 167,000 members and 1,300 employees. It operates 37 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial and Valley First brands.
Nomination Category: Individual Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Best Canadian Executive

Nomination Title: Launi Skinner, CEO

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated executive during the eligibility period (up to 500 words):

Upon joining First West Credit Union as CEO in April 2010, Launi set an ambitious course for BC’s third-largest credit union: to reinvent the traditional credit union model by creating a network of like-minded credit unions operating their own brands under First West. The one-of-a-kind model in Canada allows First West’s partner credit unions to gain the economic advantages of collaboration including a better branch network, better diversification of risk and improved efficiency—all the while still retaining their local identity, brand and leadership teams. This model is crucial to helping local credit unions stay relevant in their communities while tapping into the strength and resources of a financially strong parent company.

According to First West board chair Shawn Neumann, “Launi joined the organization just four months after it was formed, so she’s been instrumental in developing First West and bringing our growth model to life.” Some of Launi’s accomplishments include developing First West’s three-year strategic plan, establishing clear organizational priorities and structuring the organization so its talent and resources are positioned to achieve success.

One innovative way Launi has been able to inspire results is through the implementation of Lean, which aims to maximize customer value by finding more efficient ways of doing business, eliminating unnecessary wastes, and developing a culture of problem solvers within the organization. First West is one of the few financial services organizations in Canada to embed Lean principles so deeply into its culture—a direct result of Launi’s visionary leadership.

After only 16 months under Launi’s leadership, First West has achieved impressive financial results, far exceeding the organization’s initial merger business plan expectations.

In 2010, First West achieved record earnings with a return on assets before tax of 0.89%—the highest among major credit unions in BC. Net interest income increased 37.3% to $129 million. Net interest income as a percentage of average assets increased from 2.04% in 2009 to 2.65% in 2010, one of the highest in the BC credit union system. Net operating income before taxes rose 17.3% to $43.6 million. This financial success comes as a result of Launi’s balanced scorecard approach to managing First West: balancing key financial, people and customer results.

Launi is also a champion of First West’s commitment to being a good neighbour by giving back to the communities where our members live, work and play. In 2010, First West invested over $1 million and countless volunteer hours in creating healthier communities. According to Launi, “Everyone has value. Moms and dads,students and kids, grandparents, local business owners, and our neighbours who may have less than some of us have. It’s our privilege to invest in them all. We treat everyone with dignity, respect and honesty.”

Launi has always approached her leadership role with precision and clarity, setting priorities and communicating straightforwardly about the issues and actions that will impact the business. This, combined with Launi’s passion for harnessing the strength and talent of the people around her, has ultimately set First West on a course for success.

List the URLs (web addresses) of any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that you would like the judges to see that support your entry. IMPORTANT: List each URL on a separate line, begin each URL with http://, and enclose each URL in square brackets. For example, [http://www.yourcompany.com/pressrelease.html]:






Provide a brief biography of the nominated executive (up to 100 words):

Launi Skinner is CEO of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union with $6.2 billion in assets under administration, 167000 members and 1300 employees.

Launi was singled out as one of Four Women to Watch by Fortune Magazine and was recently named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network. Launi is also the former President of Starbucks U.S., where she oversaw a management team with operational responsibility for 130000 employees.

Launi currently volunteers as event chair for the Vancouver YWCA Women of Distinction Awards. She is also a community leader for the Minerva Foundation and was appointed by the Government of British Columbia to Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Board of Governors.